East Gippsland is home to fifth & sixth generation locals, sea-changers, tree-changers and is frequented by tourists from all around the world. A pristine environment, East Gippsland is growing and has a lot of potential.

In 2015, East Gippsland Shire Council invested in the development of a digital plan, and a recommendation from the plan is to run a series of digital marketing workshops across the region. East Gippsland Shire wants to help business owners & budding entrepreneurs gain digital marketing knowledge & skills, so that the digital age can be embraced by the local economy.

On 30 May 2016, approximately seventy people gathered in Bairnsdale, East Gippsland’s central business district, to hear Tim Gentle, Brett Hamm and Simon Maselli speak on digital marketing.

We also heard an account of how award-winning local businesses Jetty Road Retreat, Happy Camper Gourmet Foods and Schoolworks Supplies are using digital marketing to enhance their business operations and reach a broader audience.

Here’s my key discoveries from the 2016 East Gippsland Digital Forum

Whilst listening to Brett Hamm of Copy Transmission, I found the following points really interesting.

Business to business models need to embrace LinkedIn:

LinkedIn is a powerful platform for business to business (B2B) because it’s a professional social network. I liken LinkedIn to the wine room – it’s refined and professional and not as noisy as the Facebook pub.

LinkedIn no longer serves people merely as an ‘online resume’.

Akin to Facebook, you can share content through a status update, post long-form articles to LinkedIn Pulse and engage with influencers. Which builds your credibility in the professional social space.

Posting relevant and valuable content to LinkedIn at least once a day will put you in good stead to become an influencer in your own right.

These statistics made my ears prick up:

  • Of the 400 million LinkedIn users, Australia has 8.1m users
  • Twice as many visitors on LinkedIn are unregistered ‘viewers’, yet they still have the opportunity to see the content you are sharing.
  • 94% of B2B are using LinkedIn as a part of their strategy.

Now is the good old days for Instagram, so enjoy it while you can:

I personally love Instagram, and it’s a place where I love to hang out. The ability to build a global audience constantly astounds me with Insta, and engagement is genuine and meaningful.

I was astounded to find that the ability for a person to recall the detail of sponsored content in an Instagram post is higher than any other social platform.

And these engagement stats made my eyes widen:

  • Engagement is 58 times higher on Instagram than Facebook
  • And 120 times higher on Instagram than Twitter

So if you are operating a business to consumer (B2C) model, and you’re not on Instagram, you are missing out on a great platform to engage with your community.

Of the 400 million users on Instagram, 5 million are based in Australia. And 80 million posts are churned out a day on the platform! Wow!

Alas, with the introduction of the algorithm in March 2016, monetisation will enter the equation at some stage in the future. That’s why now is the good old days for Instagram.

Tim Gentle of Think Digital offered a highly engaging presentation, and there are three simple messages that I took away:

  • Know & find your customers – where do they hang out? what do they need and want? what keywords are they using to find you?
  • Engage with your customers – in a genuine way, using your preferred social media platforms
  • Service your customers – remember, it’s human to human – not business to business/consumer!

How can we know what our customers are actually searching for, if we don’t ask them or do some research?

Keyword research is essential for any business to invest in.

Tim took us through a simple exercise, where we asked the person beside us “What would you search for on Google if you didn’t know my business?”. Specific, locational keywords without jargon is the answer!

The final key message from the 2016 East Gippsland Digital Forum:

Digital marketing is here to stay.

Investment in digital marketing needs to be a part of your business’ strategy and integrated in your day-to-day operations.

A digital plan is essential, and will see you consistently navigate the lifecycle of planning, building, sustaining and improving.

How are you future-proofing your business today, so you can enjoy sustainable growth as digital marketing evolves?

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